Far back in the history of the human race, the sad philosophy that "man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward," had become established. Adown the centuries, this statement has been preached from every pulpit, declared in every family, published in every form of Christian literature, because, when it is affirmed that man is born unto trouble, we have not only a fact stated, but a doctrine announced. It is much as if it were said, trouble belongs to the warp and woof of things. But, is it true? Is there no happy man to stand up and say, No, this is a mistake ; I have had no trouble ; my days have been days of laughter and mirthfulness and festival ; a summer life has been mine, without one touch or breath of chill and cruel winter ; everything has been smooth and unruffled, since I drew my first breath ? Such a man has not yet been born.



The truth is, man is not completely strong anywhere. He never built a house that time did not unroof, that time did not take down. He never built a ship that God's great sea could not swallow up like a pebble. He never made a chronometer that keeps pace with the sun — exactly, astronomically, punctually; his poor chronometer is always falling out of beat, is always in need of survey and repair. Whatever man does — what he builds, what he writes, what he invents — has upon it the seal of trouble ; there is always a defect somewhere.

Wei might be glad to find a man who had discovered a Bible that says man is not born unto trouble ; who would/ tell us that he had found a nation all young, all happy, all moving and living in the spirit of music. Until that nation is discovered, we abide in the rock of our own

experience, we stand in the sanctuary of what we ourselves have known and felt and handled.

What man calls his progress is but a series of self-amendments. Why not face these facts, and search into their origin? If it be science to take some little stone back, in its geological history, until its origin is discovered, it cannot be other than a greater science to take back


some human emotion, some sad, awful human experience, and trace it to the starting-point.

It has been taught that all trouble comes from sin, as a punishment for disobedience. This can hardly be true ; from the connection between the two cannot always be traced. On one occasion, as Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. His disciples asked him, saying, "Rabbi, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he

should be born blind ?" Jesus answered, "Neither did this man sin, nor his parents : but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." There is no doubt that sin is the greatest troubler in the world; and if it were blotted out, such a change would take place that we should scarcely recognize we were living on the same planet. Yet there is trouble for the good as well as for the bad. "The wages of sin is death ;" but the wages of righteousness is not always exemption from loss, pain and disappointment.

There is trouble of some sort in every house. Talmage was once passing down a city street, in company with a merchant who knew all the finest houses on it. The merchant said, "There is something the matter in all these


houses. In this one, it is conjugal infelicity; in

that one, it is a dissipated son. In this one, it is a dissolute father ; in, that, an idiot child ; and in the other the prospect of bankruptcy/' And, probably, we could go through the streets of our own city, or town, and say there is something the matter in every house; there is some trouble there.

In many of our homes, death has cast its shadow; there is the vacant chair; the lips that once spoke words of tenderness and love are sealed. We cannot call them back. The child that played at our feet, and brought sunshine to all our hopes, has passed from our sight, and mingles with those in bright array on the other shore. Such sorrows are inevitable ; they belong to the course of nature ; they are part and parcel of a human experience that is universal. To escape from trouble we would have to escape from existence; for it is here and there and everywhere. Since this is the fact, how can we doubt that God intended we should live in a world where there are to be found all these varied experiences of pains, hardships, losses

and disappointments? Moreover, ought we not to consider that this is the very best sort of a


world for us, and that any other arrangement would be to our harm and disadvantage?

An earnest and brilliant thinker has lately said: "If I had my life to live oyer again, and if I were given the choice to accept it, from infancy to old age, without a disappointment, the shadow of a loss, a hurt or a pain, I would not dare to take life on such terms; I would rather say, 'Give me such life as the universe offers, with its strange vicissitudes, with its summer and winter, its shadows and sunshine, its bitter-sweet of sorrow mingled in its cup. If the raising of my hand would save those whom I love most from all pain throughout eternity, I would not dare to raise my hand. What comes to all, what is universal, I believe is not evil, but

good.' "

What constitutes the real and full life? Our Longfellow says, "Not enjoyment and not sorrow, is our destined end and way." What is it, then? It is life wrought out through achievement. And there is no achievement without the confronting and overcoming of obstacles. A life would be utterly colorless and dull, that moved so smoothly and frictionless that it attained success without a struggle. It is life con-


tending under pressure and difficulties:, and finally emerging and proving itself superior to all obstructions in the way, that is entitled to honor, and a place in the gallery of heroes. And this is the only sort of life that brings satisfaction to the soul of man himself. The highest delight which we can, have is that which comes through achievement. What was the particular

delight of the great engineers who carried the Canadian Pacific Railroad across the Rocky Mountains? Was it the pay and the applause? I think not. They would have chosen to do their work if they had barely received a living out of it, or even if the praise went to the wrong persons. Their delight was not merely in cutting through loose gravel or pushing their way over easy levels. No! The great engineers' special joy is in overcoming difficulties, in solving hard problems, in expressing all the power, courage, intelligence, genius, that they possess, in a splendid piece of human service. Show them steep cliffs, deep canons, roaring mountain torrents, quicksands and bogs, to be tunneled and bridged and filled, and their mastery of these is their delight.

So the divine life-power in man takes every



material of experience — difficulties, losses, opposition, pain, as well as successes, praise, favor and joy — and weaves all into a beautiful harmony. What is the achievement in this case? What is the beautiful harmony secured? It is love, or good will. The divinest power of this world is to give expression to love or good will. It is a great thing to tunnel mountains and bridge canons ; but it is a greater and grander thing to encounter trials, oppositions and sorrows ; and, finally, to master them, emerging from them with a life purified, sweetened, and expressing itself in love and good will. When we speak of those whose life is soured and embittered, we simply mean those who have had trouble and been mastered by it. Instead of overcoming the trial, the trial overcame them. They did not consider, that losses and disappointments are a part of the program of this life. It was their philosophy that these things "ought not to be." Hence, when the trouble came they hugged it, carried it with them, brooded over it, until all the sweetness of their life was turned into bitterness.

What a disaster to any man, to allow trouble to monopolize his thoughts and feelings ! The


man is not his full self when trouble becomes weakness as well as pain to him; he is but half a man, or less than half; his faculties are clouded, his hands have lost their cunning, his whole system feels the influence of the trouble that fills his vision and occupies his attention. Man was made to be bigger than any trouble. But when it comes to pass that the trouble is bigger than the man, it is not on account of some inexorable necessity, but because he has suffered it to be so. How often we fall down before little troubles, little disappointments, and become paralyzed by them! We can't do anything now ; we give right up ; and that which interested us once 1 interests us no more. This is weakness, not strength ; it is folly, not wisdom.

Some one aptly describes the people who go around full of cynical criticism,, and finding a rotten spot in life's sweetest joys, as "the Knights of the Sorrowful Figure." We ought to keep out of the company of the Knights of the Sorrowful Figure. The disciples of Jesus have no right to go about in any such masquerade. It is not a fancy or a dream, but the real truth, that there is always a bright side to life, and to every experience in life ; and the bright


side is the right side, the side where God is. There is no sorrow so dark but you may delve out from under it, if you will keep your face toward the light, and dig with a courageous heart.

In talking about trouble, we should always talk about its mitigations. Is it possible that there can be a life, anywhere, on which some

beam of sunshine does not fall? We are not talking now about the insane, or those who suffer from increasing and continued melancholy, but about the general average of human life; and, so speaking, we can always find, in the hardest lot, some mitigation of the burden, some compensation for the heavy darkness or difficulty. An incident that happened on a railway train is illustrative. A woman clad in deep mourning entered the cars and took a seat just in front of an inquisitive-looking, sharp-faced female. The woman in black had not been seated long, before she felt a slight tap on the shoulder and heard her neighbor ask, in a low, sympathetic tone, "Lost anybody ?" A silent nod was the response. A slight pause, and then a second question, "Child ?" A low shake of the head, in the negative, was the answer. "Parent ?" A


similar reply, a low shake of the head in the

negative. "Husband?" This time a slight nod in the affirmative. "Life insured?" A nod in the affirmative. "Experienced religion?" Another nod in the affirmative. Then: "Well, well, cheer up! Life insured and experienced religion ; you are all right, and so 's he !" This may seem too practical a way of imparting comfort to the sorrowful; and yet the general trend of the argument is correct. We should look out for the mitigations. Instead of arguing from the difficulty, we should argue from the strength which is able to bear the difficulty, in some degree. Instead of looking at the dark side of things we should accustom ourselves to look at the bright side of things, the side where , God is.

How important to get into our minds that this is God's world! And since it is God's world, there is no need of fear or anxiety. There is nothing which ever befalls you, or those whom you love, which may not be so handled as to be translated into beauty and good. Human experiences of every sort be13

come so much material for good. All trouble is subject to* this translation. This is the law.


The darkest passages in life become radiant as we turn our faces toward the Sun of righteousness.

A ship which arrived in New York from Rio de Janeiro, brought, in the captain's cabin, a pair of canaries from Rangoon. They were both fine singers, the quality, as well as the range of their notes, being extraordinary; but the distinguishing characteristic of these songsters was, that they always sang at night. The Lord would make of us such canaries. He would have us, like Paul and Silas in the dungeon at Philippi, able to sing songs of hope and courage and victory in the darkest night of trial. It is these songs in the night that give the most effective testimony to the power and worth of our

religion. What; does our religion amount to if, falling under disappointment, we lose our faith and join the ranks of the Knights of the Sorrowful Figure? Disappointment is a thread to be woven into a beautiful pattern, bearing the stamp of love and good will.

Brussels is a city of lace-shops. There the most splendid patterns of lace are spun in darkened rooms; the only admitted light is let in through a very small window, where it falls


directly on the pattern. When shall we understand that human lives can be worked out in the loveliest figures only by the aid of shadows? When will every wise soul sing out of a full heart,

"I thank Thee more, that all my joyIs touched with pain;

That shadows fall on brightest hours, That thorns remain;

So that earth's bliss may be my guide, And not my chain"? When shall we learn that pain, losses, disappointments are only the incidents of life; that the note of life is not sorrow or fear ; that life is blended of many notes and voices ; that joys and sorrows, toil and rest, alternate; and that the key-note of life rises out of the whole? And what is this key-note? It is not a wail of grief; it is not a bitter cry ; it isi musical, sweet, beautiful; a clarion call. It is a paean of victory; it tells a love story, and is joy.

All around us are those who need the uplift of strong, joyous spirits. What is more depressing than the man who goes about sounding a discouraging note, who is continually looking upon the dark side of things, and talking about it?



We never should forget that our spiritual atmosphere helps to mold the character of others, every day, by discouraging or encouraging and inspiring them. To< do the most good, we must present, both in our conversation and life, the bright and courageous side of things. We are not only to act as those who are living in God's world and have nothing to fear, but we are to talk, hopefully and encouragingly, to show that our lives are not set in darkness, but in the light of Christ's life.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox illustrates this thought very clearly in these verses :

"Talk happiness. The world is sad enough Without your woes. No path is wholly rough; Look for the places that are smooth and clear, And speak of these, to rest the weary ear Of earth, so hurt by one continuous strain

Of human discontent and grief and pain.

Talk faith. The world is better off without

Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt.

If you have faith in God, or man, or self,

Say so; if not, push back upon the shelf

Of silence, all your thoughts, till faith shall come;

No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.

Talk health. The dreary, never-changing tale Of mortal maladies, is worn and stale. You cannot charm, or interest, or please, By harping on that minor chord, diseaseSay you are well, or all is well with you, And God shall hear your words and make them true.





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